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Perfection in the Imperfect

By Debbie Milam

What a wake up call nature provided for my heart today. After several days of my children bickering, acting out, pushing my buttons, triggering my inner child and other assorted adolescent antics I was deep in crazed parent mode. I completely stepped out of every positive parenting practice that I have not only embraced but taught.

I was analyzing, correcting, disciplining, attempting to fix, blaming, getting overwhelmed and feeling rather inadequate as a parent. Our family meetings that worked so well when our children were younger have been far more challenging now that they are 16 and 11. After three of them in one week, things were a bit calmer but still very tense.

With the kids off to school I sat in meditation. I was able to gain a great deal of clarity and released my emotions. Still feeling in a bit of a funk I decided what I needed was a walk in nature, some exercise and a good sweat in the steam room at our gym. Our gym is on an amazing piece of property, rolling hills, rows of Banyan Trees, and a beautiful beachfront lake.

As soon as I stepped foot on the beach the wind began to caress my skin. This always feels like God's breath soothing my soul. Then, several dragonflies and butterflies danced around my feet. In a place of appreciation and surrender I prayed for guidance. A prayer that I say often, God show me how to be a better parent. As I said this prayer I was guided to stand beneath one of the tallest banyan trees.

The strength and the beauty of the tree permeated my being. Standing deeply rooted to the earth with my spine absorbing the energy of this magnificent tree I felt my life force renew. I was in total awe and reverence of this miraculous creation. I then gazed to the side and noticed several of the branches were broken, tattered and tangled. But instead of depleting the beauty of the tree these imperfections are what gave the tree character. I then realized the same was true of my children.

It is their "imperfections" that make them uniquely who they are. God would never change the imperfections of a tree so why as I parent would I try to "fix" what is just part of who my children are. I realized that if I did fix any of these unique characteristics I would be taking away a part of their journey in self discovery, interrupting their path in becoming who they are meant to be. This would be far more detrimental than any of the character traits they may have.

As this awareness awakened in my heart, I gazed at the ground. Shimmering in the morning light was a beautiful iridescent snail shell. The beauty of this shell was beyond any I had ever seen. When I picked it up I noticed it too was broken. The broken shell did not deter from the magnificence of the gift I had found. I realized too that my brokenness and the broken places in my children we were also so beautiful because they were part of who we are.

Tears of appreciation gently flowed from my eyes. For my eyes could now see myself and children in a whole new light. The light were there is perfection in the imperfect, a space where I honor all of our individual journeys, an understanding that there is nothing to fix only ways to gain awareness, a place allowing them to learn their lessons through the mistakes and successes they create and finally a knowing that nothing is more important than the love that we share as a family.

What a gift my children are in my life, for they are always showing me where I am still out of alignment and how I can continue to grow. I deeply appreciate sharing this lifetime with them. Today think about the gifts that are held in the imperfection.

Copyright © 2006 Debbie Milam
Debbie Milam is the author of Stop Fighting and Start Connecting. An occupational therapist and life coach whose work has been featured in over 300 media outlets including The Miami Herald, Elle, Ladies Home Journal, PBS and The Hallmark Channel.
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